GRAS worked with US-based design practice wHY and engineering firm Arup on the winning proposal to revitalise a nationally-important site in Edinburgh’s West Princes Street Gardens. As one of the city’s most famous landmark locations, there was a great responsibility to reimagine this historic place through a design that is both innovative and respectful to the people, wildlife, landscape and heritage of the Scottish capital.
The competition-winning proposal comprises an organic landscape-focused scheme that respects the historic setting but also animates the Gardens through the introduction of a new undulating promenade together with improved access from nearby Princes Street and sculptural seating with dynamic open views. The space could be used throughout the year to host an array of cultural, musical and artistic events and activities, with world-class facilities in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. The Quaich Project would also encourage daily use by residents and enhance connections between Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns through improved pathways and activation of this underused site.
Inspired by the Gardens’ geology and history – from the volcanic forces to the man-made energy of the Victorian pleasure garden – the design subtly integrates the new visitor centre and pavilion into the folds of the landscape, allowing the castle to remain the main visual focus. The ‘quaich’ concept was informed by the topography of the land, which mirrors the bowl of a typical Scottish ‘sharing cup’. The scheme would increase the amount of green space relative to hard surfaces within the Gardens and is, in the team’s words, “human scale with moments of drama… activating four layers of meaning within the Gardens: botanical, civic, commemorative and cultural.”
Ross Development Trust
World Architecture Festival: Culture – Future Projects Award 2019
Lead Landscape Architect
Mark Thomann, wHY
The Quaich Project Details
Our vision is to develop a unique, world-class garden space full of nature and tranquillity set against the backdrop of Edinburgh’s vibrant and dynamic city life.
We are dedicated to creating a ‘space for all’ – where people can come together, memories can be made, and friendships can be forged.
Ross Development Trust